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April 2007

Perfect Stranger

By Wilson Morales

Perfect Stranger

Distributor: Columbia Pictes
Director: James Foley
Producer: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
Screenwriter: Todd Komarnicki
Cinematographer: Anastas Michos
Composer: Antonio Pinto
Cast: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Gary Dourdan, Richard Portnow, Patti D’Arbanville, Clea Lewis



If you happen to go to the movies based on the trailer you’ve seen on television or online, then you go in knowing more than the person who hears about what the story is about. For one thing, trailers seem to show in two minutes pretty much the order of sequence where the movie is going and that takes the fun out of being intrigue. In James Foley’s film, Perfect Stranger, which star Oscar winner Halle Berry, the set up is so pretentious and absurd that you can answer the riddle to this murder mystery when you eliminate the obvious. For Halle Berry, it’s time to reinvent yourself in do something that the audience can believe in, instead of playing a poor Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote).

Set in New York, Rowena Price (Berry) is an investigative reporter who just broke a major story involving a high ranking government official with the help of her closest associate, Miles (Ribisi). When her editor tells her that her story won’t get published due to political pressure, Rowena elects to quit her job and within the same night, runs into an old childhood friend who tells hers of her involvement with a married man. That married man happens to be Harrison Hill (Willis), a powerful ad executive. When her friend ends up murdered, rather than alert the police of what she knows, Rowena wants to go undercover and bust Harrison for the crime and get the journalistic glory she craves for. With Miles’ help, Rowena poses as Katherine, the new temp at Harrison’s company, and as Victoria, the girl Hill flirts with online. With as many identities that she’s using, Rowena discovers that not all is what it seems when she gets closer to knowing more she should and her prime objective is clouded by regrets and betrayal.

From the moment the trailer asks “How far would you go to keep a secret?”, it’s not that hard to play Sherlock Holmes with this film, yet I do give credit to the filmmakers for throwing enough red herrings to keep you entertained and intrigue for most of the film. Berry, still searching for a great leading vehicle since 2002 Oscar win, is attractive enough to play the alluring reporter, but she’s not convincing enough for us to buy that she has so has much zest for reporting that she completely ignores that her friend was murdered. Though Bruce Willis is a big name in the biz, he’s really a supportive player in the film and plays his role with ease and aloofness. His flaw was agreeing to be in a scene where his character and Rowena are instant messaging each other with sex talk. What a bore!! Ribisi is really the one the one that shines in his roles. He’s the quick, thinking, computer whiz who adores Rowena yet has his own oddities that we, the audience, begin to question. Other characters come and go with expressions and statements that may throw you off a bit, but in the end, don’t make much sense but add to the ostentatious subplots. The script is banal and the performances are unconvincing. It’s plot twist is set up so that you may want a repeat viewing to connect the dots, but this is NO “Basic Instinct” and not even close to being “The Usual Suspects”!